Lauren's Peace Corps Experience in Honduras

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are mine personally. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps or the U.S. government. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor. Please do not copy or forward any of these contents without my permission.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Catching up some more, and my trip to the states

Hi all!

Well to lately in my town I have been very busy, which is a nice change. Time has been passing super fast, so much so that I still hadn't sent out my stove proposal when I left for the states because I was waiting for a response from someone, and by the time I realized it, two more months had passed before I knew it. When I get back I will send it out though, with or without the data I requested. I also have become involved with the youth group again, with a new leader from PLAN Honduras, who is an improvement from the one from last year. We have been focusing on getting the members (about 30 kids) and getting straight what everyone wants to do as a group and giving them some skills so that they can work as a group. Also I have been busy with the library. We finally opened the "provisional library"...the municipality agreed to pay rent and the librarian's salary so that we fixed up the room in front of the Profe's house and could put to use the many many books that the University of Maine donated. At the end of opening day we had over 1500 books - a kid's corner full of books and games and flashcards and puzzles, flutes, keyboard....and several shelves of school subjects like science, mathematics, social studies, and then several shelves of literature, in Spanish and English. I've already gotten my library card (was the first cardholder actually) and took out Memoirs of a Geisha in Spanish. With the 2000$ the University donated we used part of it to buy a new computer also, so that we can start making a little bit of money to do library activities by selling copies and printing. Every day there are kids there reading and looking up homework topics. The library committee has many ideas of things we want to do, like workshops and ways to motivate reading. So until October, when we hope Reicken will start constructing the new library building, our library is going pretty well.

Well the 17th I came to the states (and am still here til Friday). It's been a great trip. I flew into DC and Chris picked me up about 9:30 at night. It was kind of sad leaving Honduras, flying over San Pedro Sula. I really love that country a lot by now. But arriving in Houston was kinda crazy...I got a bit emotional at seeing the American flag when I got off the plane, corny I know, but it had been almost a year and a half since setting foot in the U.S. And being in the airport was weird...what struck me most were the amount of overweight people, the amount of people talking on their cell phones, and of course the English. It was odd. I felt out of place...I just wanted to find someone who spoke Spanish...funny huh? But as soon as I got to DC and Richmond and everything else, I almost felt like I had never left, everything felt so normal. I had a great time eating sushi again, seeing Chris's mom and going out to lunch, seeing my house again in Midlothian, going to the gym and the pool, going shopping (although major price shock...everything seems like such a scam here!) and seeing and renting lots of movies. Over memorial weekend I finally saw our new lake house on Lake Anna that my grandparents constructed last year. It is an amazing house and I had a great time seeing my huge extended, swimming, playing games, badminton, and eating way too much. We celebrated my birthday there and had a really fun time catching up. So until Friday I'll be in the DC area tying up loose ends and seeing some more friends. All in all it's been a great time in the states. I am sad to seems so much cleaner and organized here, I love the water fountains and hot showers and air conditioning...but I also miss Honduras, mostly my friends there. I know that once I'm there I won't miss all the amenities that are's just hard to leave them :) Well, more later....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

First Make-up Installment...sorry!

Ok as always, gotta apologize for not writing in forever. This time I even got complaints that I was slacking too much. It’s just that after a while I start not wanting to write because too many things have happened and it’s backed up and seems like too much, so I avoid it. Asi es…

So as for my hike up Celaque, it was good…one of those immensely painful experiences you are glad you did. The five of us took up our backpacks full of food, water, tents, and sleeping bags….the first day we hiked about 7 hours and camped near a waterfall in the middle of a trail…we chose our location for one simple reason…we couldn’t go any further…we were exhausted. So we made a campfire and heated up some empanadas over the fire and pulled out a bottle of rum and one of coke…yes, we lugged that up the mountain, but it was worth it. It started to rain, as it usually does most evenings on Celaque so we went inside the bigger tent and drank and played cards and listened to my iPod I brought up with speakers. Celaque is a beautiful park…one of the few places left in Honduras that is preserved and unmarred by trash. Most of the mountain is covered with pine trees, and we didn’t see much wildlife…just a cool skunk like animal our last day. On top is a cloud forest, but I didn’t see much of that because our second day we started up, and after a few minutes we realized our legs were already pretty tired. I didn’t wake up sore but just tired. We walked about 8 hours the 2nd day. Around noon we got to the 2nd camp and decided to rest and leave our stuff there to sleep later on. We continued up around 2 pm. Here the trail got much more difficult…many times you had to pull yourself up by the roots in the trail it was so vertical. About 4:30 we got to the 3rd camp and there was an American couple setting up their tent. We were at 2,500 meters. They had gone to the summit that day and said we still had a good hour and a half to go to get to the summit, another 300 meters up. Two in our group had gone ahead earlier and were a ½ hour ahead of Sarah, Lester and I. We decided the best thing to do was turn back because it usually got dark about 5:30 and we had a good hour to get down to where our food, tents, and everything else was. The trail was too steep and rough to do in the dark. We didn’t wanna get stuck up on the summit because it goes below freezing and the mosquitos come out so you don’t wanna be stuck without repellent and a good jacket, which we didn’t have. So we sadly made our way back down to camp. By this point my body was hurting…but finally we made it as it got dark. We kept looking into the forest hoping Jorge and Jacob would come out, but they didn’t. The next morning they show up looking exhausted…they had slept up on the summit without any food, water, repellent, warm clothes…made a little shelter out of branches. They had my camera with them and recorded some pretty funny videos about their certain death in the cold. They used hand sanitizer for repellent and ate some crackers turned into dust in one of their pockets. I was sad I didn’t make it all the way up because the pictures of the view were incredible, but on the other hand, wouldn’t have been a happy camper (haha) up there freezing without dinner or my sleeping bag. Three of us went down the third day, but Jorge and Sarah stayed because he was way too exhausted. I wanted to stay and rest also but we didn’t have enough food so I sucked it up and started down. Every step hurt because my legs were so sore but 6 hours later we made it to Gracias, thank the Lord! Let’s just say the following week I felt like an old lady cuz I couldn’t walk…my body was majorly protesting. But I did it and that’s what counts J

The rest of Semana Santa was more laidback. I didn’t go to El Salvador, Guatemala, or Nicaragua like a lot of other volunteers cuz I was saving up my vacation days for my coming trip home to the states in May. So I left town a couple times on day trips with friends in town to go swimming in different rivers and picnics…everybody has to go to some body of water during that week, it’s tradition…like the beginning of summer vacation.

Speaking of summer, it has come and gone already in my town. It’s only about a month and a half long, characterized but heat and no rain. We have had a serious water shortage this year since it was a cold winter but did not rain enough. Many families went without running water for more than a month, try to imagine – no washing clothes, dishes, showers, anything…they had to beg neighbors or find some little spring somewhere to haul water. It’s very difficult. I was mostly ok, just had to wash clothes at a friend’s a couple times, but since I am just one person in my house, for the most part, my pila and big water barrel in the bathroom I had filled got me through pretty clean. Hopefully by the time I get back (yes, I am on 2 week vacation in the states right now) it will have started raining enough to get water more regularly.